Pervez Musharraf (born 11 August 1943) is a Pakistani general and politician who became the President of Paksitan in 1999 after overthrowing Nawaz Sharif. He installed military rule into the country and was a key player in the War of Terror. He was implicated in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. Born in Delhi during the British Raj, Musharraf was raised in Karachi and Istanbul, Turkey. Musharraf entered the Pakistani Miltiary Academy in 1961, graduating in 1964. He served in the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965 where he was commended for his tactics and bravery.
Born in Delhi during the British Raj, Musharraf was raised in Karachi and Istanbul. He studied mathematics at Forman Christian College in Lahore and was also educated at the Royal College of Defence Studies in the United Kingdom. Musharraf entered the Pakistan Military Academy in 1961 and was commissioned to the Pakistan Army in 1964, playing an active role in the Afghan civil war.
Musharraf saw action during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 as a second lieutenant. By the 1980s, he was commanding an artillery brigade. In the 1990s, Musharraf was promoted to major general and assigned an infantry division, and later commanded the Special Services Group. Soon after, he also served as deputy military secretary and director general of military operations.
Musharraf rose to national prominence when he was promoted to four-star general by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 1998, making Musharraf the head of the armed forces. He led the Kargil infiltration that almost brought India and Pakistan to a full-fledged war in 1999.
After months of contentious relations between Sharif and Musharraf, Sharif unsuccessfully attempted to remove Musharraf as the army's leader. In retaliation, the army staged a coup d'état in 1999, which allowed Musharraf to take over, Pakistan as president in 2001. He subsequently placed Sharif under strict house arrest before launching official criminal proceedings against him.
Musharraf initially remained the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Chief of the Army Staff, relinquishing the former position upon confirmation of his presidency. However, he remained the Army Chief until retiring in 2007. The initial stages of his presidency featured controversial wins in a state referendum to grant him a five-year term limit, and a general election in 2002.
During his presidency, he advocated for the Third Way, adopting a synthesis of conservatism and socialism. Musharraf reinstated the constitution in 2002, though it was heavily amended within the Legal Framework Order. He appointed Zafarullah Jamali and later Shaukat Aziz as Prime Minister, and oversaw directed policies against terrorism, becoming a key player in the American-led war on terror.
Musharraf pushed for social liberalism under his enlightened moderation program and promoted economic liberalisation, while he also banned trade unions. Musharraf's presidency coincided with a rise of overall gross domestic product by around 50%; in the same period, domestic savings declined, and economic inequality rose at a rapid rate. Musharraf's government has also been accused of human rights abuses, and he survived a number of assassination attempts during his presidency.
When Aziz departed as prime minister, and after approving the suspension of the judicature in 2007, Musharraf's position weakened dramatically. Tendering his resignation to avoid impeachment in 2008, Musharraf emigrated to London in a self-imposed exile. His legacy as leader is mixed; he saw the emergence of a more assertive middle class, but an open disregard for civilian institutions greatly weakened democracy in Pakistan.
Musharraf returned to Pakistan in 2013 to participate in that year's general election, but was disqualified from participating after the country's high courts issued arrest warrants for him and Aziz for their alleged involvement in the assassinations of Nawab Akbar Bugti and Benazir Bhutto.
Upon Sharif's re-election in 2013, he initiated high treason charges against Musharraf for implementing emergency rule and suspending the constitution in 2007. The case against Musharraf continued after Sharif's removal from office in 2017, the same year in which Musharraf was declared an "absconder" in the Bhutto assassination case by virtue of moving to Dubai. In 2019, Musharraf was sentenced to death in absentia for the treason charges, although, the death sentence was later annulled by the Lahore High Court.